News

Feuds: fightin’ words

From Google and Apple to Newfoundland and a ballooning moose population–bad blood runs deep

Fightin’ words

Getty Images; CP; iStock; Corbis; Photo Illustration by Taylor Shute

Environmentalists Vs. Keystone XL Pipeline

Environmentalists and anti-oil sands groups managed to delay U.S. government approval of a $7-billion, 2,736-km pipeline that would carry oil from Alberta to refineries in the Gulf of Mexico. Though pipelines are normally nothing to get excited about, TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline was singled out by those unhappy with U.S. energy policy and Canada’s development of the oil sands, a carbon-intensive source of crude. Protesters ranged from Hollywood celebrities like Robert Redford and left-leaning luminaries like Naomi Klein to concerned ranchers and residents along the pipeline’s proposed route.

Google Vs. Apple

The battle for control of the ballooning smartphone market got personal as Google’s open-source operating system, Android, overtook Apple’s iOS, which runs the iPhone. Steve Jobs, Apple’s late CEO, told his official biographer the search-engine giant didn’t play fair and accused Google of “grand theft” of the iPhone concept (among more colourful language). Google chairman Eric Schmidt, who once sat on Apple’s board, responded by saying “the Android effort started before the iPhone effort.”

Barbers Vs. Stylists

New Brunswick’s barbers waged a public battle against stylists over their use of the iconic red, blue and white striped poles. The barbers, vastly outnumbered by the province’s stylists, argued the pole has been in use since the Middle Ages (the red stripes are said to symbolize the blood associated with surgeries barbers once performed), and hoped its use would be restricted as it is in some U.S. states. The stylists argued that’s ancient history.

Standard & Poor’s Vs. United States

Standard & Poor’s created waves in Washington when it downgraded U.S. debt for the first time in 70 years. The rating agency, which removed its triple-A credit rating on U.S. Treasury debt (placing it below Liechtenstein’s), was motivated by the inability of politicians in Washington to come to a budget deal until the 11th hour amid a mounting financial crisis. The Obama administration was livid, accusing S&P of faulty arithmetic and calling the downgrade a US$2-trillion “mistake.”

Nfld. Vs. Moose

The province is facing a class-action lawsuit from Newfoundlanders who say it has allowed the moose population to balloon. According to the lawyer for the plaintiffs, there are an estimated 120,000 to 200,000 of the spindly-legged beasts roaming the Rock, representing an ongoing threat to the province’s motorists. The suit calls for a moose cull and fencing along highways.

Paul Haggis Vs. Scientology

If Tom Cruise is one of Scientology’s best-known followers, then London, Ont.-born screenwriter and director Paul Haggis is now its celebrity critic. Haggis, whose credits include Crash and Million Dollar Baby, spoke out against the Church of Scientology after leaving it in 2009. His allegations were detailed in a 25,000-word story that appeared in the New Yorker this year. “I was in a cult for 34 years,” he told the magazine. “Everyone else could see it. I don’t know why I couldn’t.” The church was not amused. It called the criticism “little more than a regurgitation of old allegations that have long been disproved.”